With the World Cup break looming, Vancouver Whitecaps left their supporters with something to look forward to in the second half of the season as they found their shooting boots to defeat ten-man Orlando City 5-2 at BC Place on Saturday afternoon.
They were led with a brace from Kei Kamara in addition to goals by Alphonso Davies, Yordy Reyna, and Nicolas Mezquida, while Orlando responded with tallies from Sacha Kljestan and Dom Dwyer.
Six of the seven goals came after Orlando had gone down to ten men just before the hour mark, when Mohamed El-Munir saw red after picking up a second yellow card, in what proved to be a busy and eventful afternoon for referee Jose Carlos Rivero.
The first quality chance by either side came just before the 20 minute mark when Reyna was unable to get any real power behind a header from a Jake Nerwinski cross.
Minutes later the ‘Caps would need Brian Rowe to make a couple of big saves from in close.
The first came when Will Johnson fired a strike from 13 yards out that the keeper was able to parry over the bar. Then, from a tight angle, Rowe came up big again in a similar fashion when he knocked over a Chris Mueller strike.
Those stops would prove to be vital as the ‘Caps opened the scoring with nine minutes to go in the half when Kamara finished off a Davies pass, after the teenager made a spectacular run from the half line.
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Orlando had a chance to draw even when Kljestan found himself free on the left side only to shoot wide of the post.
After the break, the Whitecaps continued to buzz around the Orlando box looking for some cushion on the scoreboard.
Their first real chance of the half coming from a shot from Cristian Techera that was stopped by Bendik and almost put away on a follow up by Davies. That chance was then followed with a one on one with the keeper, but Kamara sent his shot into the side netting.
The ‘Caps seemed to get a huge advantage just before the hour mark when El-Munir, already on a caution, brought down Nerwinski to earn a second yellow and a sending off. A cheap booking and red card, but hard to argue with. Orlando had been lucky to keep 11 on the pitch just minutes earlier when substitute R.J. Allen could easily have picked up a second yellow of his own.
Going down to ten men didn’t seem to faze the visitors, however. In fact they equalized six minutes later, with Kljestan redirecting a Tony Rocha cross past Rowe.
That goal gave the visitors a spur and from looking completely out of the game, they started to play the better football for a short spell.
The ‘Caps regrouped and attempted to get back the go ahead goal. They were rewarded in the 76th minute when Davies converted a rebound from a shot by Jordan Mutch, after some great hustle from Nerwinski in the build up.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) June 10, 2018
There were questions whether the goal would stand or be called offside, but after a review it was deemed as a good goal due to Josue Colman keeping Davies onside despite being off the pitch after a tackle on Jake Nerwinski. Under revamped rules, a player off the pitch now counts as being on the goalline for offside decisions.
VAR would come into play once again in the 82nd minute when Yordy Reyna was dispossessed of the ball in the box. It was initially deemed as a clean tackle by the referee, but after a video review of the play by the referee two minutes later, it was called a foul and a penalty kick was award to Vancouver, which was converted by Kei Kamara.
The Whitecaps continued to pour it on a couple of minutes later as Davies made a run down the left side on a 3-on-2 breakaway and crossed it to an open Reyna who converted the tap in for his third of the season.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) June 10, 2018
In injury time the ‘Caps would make it five with Davies again making a run, this time down the middle, and with two options available he passed the ball to sub Mezquida who made no mistake and fired the ball through the defender’s legs and keeper’s hand into the net.
The final moments of the match would see Orlando get some consolation with Dwyer getting all kind of space on the left side to score and bring the visitor’s total to two.
With the victory, the Whitecaps have won back to back games for the first time since the opening two at the start of the season, and extend their unbeaten streak to six matches.
Giving up another two goals was certainly a disappointing aspect of the win, and to do so to ten men is unacceptable, as Robinson made clear in his postgame comments.
With the three helpers, Davies now stands alone, previously held by 11 players at two, with the club record in assists in a single game during the MLS era.
Immediately after the match the Whitecaps jumped to third in the conference with 23 points but there were a number of late matches to be played.
The Vancouver Whitecaps will return from their short break on June 23rd and travel east to take on Philadelphia Union before returning home to host Colorado Rapids on Canada Day.
A nice little run to head into the World Cup.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 5 Orlando City 2
VANCOUVER: Brian Rowe; Jake Nerwinski, José Aja, Doneil Henry, Brek Shea; Cristian Techera (Nicolás Mezquida 74), Aly Ghazal (Jordon Mutch 74), Felipe, Alphonso Davies; Kei Kamara, Yordy Reyna (Russell Teibert 88) [Substitutes not used: Sean Melvin, Sean Franklin, Anthony Blondell, Aaron Maund]
ORLANDO: Joe Bendik; Will Johnson (RJ Allen 40), Chris Schuler, Amro Tarek, Mohamed El-Munir; Cristian Higuita (Dom Dwyer 64), Oriol Rosell; Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan, Justin Meram (Tony Rocha 60); Josué Colmán [Substitutes not used: Earl Edwards Jr, Richie Laryea, Stéfano Pinho, Jose Villarrea]
Thoughts on the match:
“A very good performance. From the first minute, we set out a tone. We knew the tactical game plan. We knew they were a good possession-oriented team. We knew where they were weak and vulnerable. But we had to be patient and wait for our chances to come along.”
On areas of improvement:
“There are two periods that really irked me. The first one was when they went down to 10 men and we concede a goal. We got a little bit lazy in our decision-making. Our movement wasn’t good enough, our passing wasn’t sharp enough. We conceded the goal and we make a game that was comfortable interesting. The second one was we were 5-1 up, we give away a goal. You don’t do that, you respect the game, you respect football.”
On Alphonso Davies’ performance:
“Terrific. I challenged him a couple of times to start games better because I think he’s a little bit slow with his reactions and his decision-making. When the second half kicks on, he kicks on and gets his second wind. He needs to do that from the first minute to the 94th minute. I think he’s done that today. Full credit to him because he got his reward, obviously a goal, he missed an easier chance actually when the keeper made the save by putting it over. He set up three good goals. There were still areas where he could’ve gotten seven or eight assists tonight. There are still areas to work on, very good performance from him.”
On his record-setting afternoon:
“I tried to implement what I have learned at training. It worked out.”
On his fast start:
“Usually, I take my time getting going in a game. Today was different. [Robbo] told me to start the game like how I finish games. I try to do what he says.”
On his decision-making process during runs:
“I don’t really think about it much. I just go in there and try to beat my defender, either get a cross into the box or a shot on net.”
On how consistent minutes have helped:
“It’s been helping me a lot, being able to play more minutes. I’m getting more and more comfortable in games now.”
On how he’s improved his finishing:
“We went back and looked at video footage at training. We try to get the ball to the striker, finishing.”
On Kei Kamara’s influence:
“He’s a big help. He’s a striker. That’s where I want to get the ball. He’s been helping me do that at training, and it’s paying off on the field.”
On playing with Alphonso Davies:
“He’s doing his job. It’s a good team for him to be a part of. We all feed off each other. I’m not going to be as good as I can be if I don’t have people around me doing the things that they’re supposed to do to make me look good. We know what Alphonso’s strengths are. We’re definitely putting him in positions where he can use those strengths. Today was a lot of people may say his best game of his career so far. Hopefully, that’s just a start going forward.”
On scoring goals:
“A goal’s a goal. I’m used to scoring goals. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t. Today was definitely a day when the goals came for this team. We definitely needed it. It’s been a struggle. We’ve been getting a few goals, two or three goals here and there, but today was definitely a clean day for us.”
On the recent turnaround:
“It’s just believing in the system, and believing in how we play. Credit to different players in different positions. Cristian [Techera] was definitely the man doing the right things for us, putting us in the right position in the past couple of games with crucial goals. We needed that. We kept telling ourselves that it’s going to come.”
Thoughts on the match:
“You can’t play 90 percent well. I’ve been saying for five games in a row. I have been saying you can’t play 90 percent well. The problem with that line of thinking it makes you forget about the 10 percent, that is the difference right now. Another night where we start the game dictating things, then we give the ball away one time, and they go right down the field to score on their first chance. It’s too many times that we’re making critical mistakes at critical moments, too many decisions are going against us. We need to focus on that 10 percent.”
On righting the ship:
“We need players to step forward. We need players to say enough is enough. I think that we are going to have to talk to individual players about their performance. We have to expect more, and we have to demand more. Again, it’s not to say everything is bad, because it’s not. There are a lot of positive things, but at the end of the day, we need that 10 percent.”
On Vancouver’s performance:
“They did exactly what they do, and they did it well, they transitioned really well. When we lost the ball in the midfield in the first half, two passes later and it was in the back of the net. They transitioned well and blew us out the water.”
On his side’s many bookings and the red card:
“For me there was a great imbalance tonight about what was a caution and what was not a caution. You saw, by looking at the statistics, that the cautions kept going to the purple shirts. And for me, I’ll say this, and I’ve said it many times and I have to say it again now because it’s too many games in a row, this team, and this club, get absolutely zero respect from the referees. None. We go to a place like this and every critical decision went Vancouver’s way. Fine. It’s their home field. But when are we going to see the same thing in Orlando?”
Why is that the case?
“I don’t know. This is a moment where I get to be like a lot of other people in the world and just ask questions, point out negativities, and just walk away.”
Does he need to change his attacking players and is he happy with what he’s getting from Justin Meram in particular?
“Don’t ask questions about individual players.”
On moving forward:
“It’s obviously frustrating losing by that much, but we can’t do anything about it, we just have to keep moving forward.”
On assisting Kljestan’s goal:
“Yes, it was nice to score a goal when we were a man down. We thought maybe get a point out of the game, but it didn’t work out that way.”
On players having to step up:
“We all have to take more control as a team and grow in that aspect.”
On whether he has to play more cautious in a physical game:
“Not really. It’s about playing smarter and being careful with the tackles you go into.”
On moving forward:
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. We need to finish our chances. It’s becoming really critical at this point. I’m going to keep listening to the older guys and the coaches. We just need to keep moving forward.”
On frustration over lack of finishing:
“It’s just hoping something turns your way, but we lost a lot of momentum when we got the red card. It was tough, we were playing a decent game on the road. It’s been frustrating.”
On his development:
“I think I’m fine. I’ve always been fine, sometimes it just doesn’t turn that way. You can’t go into games intimidated, you’re going to lose if you do. I’m holding up fine, we’re just not getting the results we want, it’s frustrating.”
On the team mindset:
“All the guys are willing to give good advice, especially during times like this. We are just trying to keep a strong mentality. We have to continue believing. We know we have the right guys in the locker room and what our principles are, things are going to turn around for sure.”